Cricket: Ward's stand keeps Kent in the chase

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The Independent Online
Surrey 464

Kent 266-2

JOHN MAJOR, a Surrey supporter, was here yesterday but the majority of the action concerned the opposition. So nothing changes, you might say, the overnight century-maker Darren Bicknell losing his seat with indecent haste before the Prime Minister put in an appearance and Alistair Brown, another who had made a three-figure donation, giving up his soon after.

'He can come here as often as he likes,' a man of Kent said after seven Surrey wickets had gone down for 131. That still left Kent playing catch-up cricket, but they made light of an early breakthrough. Mark Benson and Trevor Ward were soon rattling along at around five an over, their century- stand reducing the danger of what one might refer to as a lost deposit.

Kent needed to make 315 to avoid the follow-on, more than twice the figure they required at Guildford last year when they came back from the brink to win. This wicket at the St Lawrence ground, mind, appeared to hold no great dangers. Quite the reverse, in fact, by the time Trevor Ward reached his first Championship century of the season.

Ward's cut for four off Waqar Younis earlier not only brought up his own fifty but matched the number of runs conceded by the Pakistan fast bowler. It was also the seventh boundary he had taken off Waqar, so this was no terror track. When Benson also cut Tony Murphy to the boards to reach his half-century, you would have sworn the cherry-picking season had been extended.

Surrey, meanwhile, had topped up their punnets on day one and Bicknell's vigil ended when, facing his second ball of the morning, he fell leg- before to Chris Penn without having added to his 119. Brown, though, tacked on another 31 to his 110 until, like Andy Smith, he was bowled by the seamer, who finished with a hard- earned four for 121.

Mark Ealham also collected four wickets, but not before Neil Kendrick and Graham Kersey had helped lift Surrey to their second-highest score of this campaign with a seventh-wicket partnership of 66.

The rest of the day belonged to Ward and Benson but not, alas, to a nervous David Fulton, out for a duck on his Championship debut. A 150 stand then developed between the regular openers prior to Benson being caught behind off Joey Benjamin. As for Ward, his century arrived off 131 balls and included 16 fours.